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Community theatres – it’s all in the name! And you, as your program’s leader, should be making the effort to connect with people and businesses in your area. From potential sponsorship opportunities to business partnerships and a wider pool of cast and crew, getting your community theatre’s name into the community is key to your success and growth. One market you may have left untapped is the education sector. On The Stage presents several avenues for you to connect with schools in your community.
If it feels like there are never enough hands on deck to help out during productions, a great way to rectify that issue – and widen your community recognition – is through the recruitment of students via joint productions.
Students around the region will likely jump at the chance to be a part of a more professional show, whether there’s room for them in costuming, props, crew, or even the cast/ensemble. Who knows – maybe you’ll be the one to discover Broadway’s next big thing!
You’ll be casting a wider net by creating joint productions, allowing for more help and further opportunities for sponsorships and partnerships. Additionally, you’ll get an entirely new audience demographic – which means more tickets sold – from students’ friends, parents, teachers, and other supporters.
If you want to help train the actors and crew members of tomorrow, create workshops targeting students.
Whether you want to focus on audition etiquette or best practices, improvisation techniques, a deep dive into lighting and sound, costuming, stage presence, vocals, or dancing, there will be a student niche for you. Find out what students at schools around you want to work on or improve, and offer them those tools to succeed. You’ll see benefits in various ways, from extra revenue to a stronger community connection and an elevated reputation.
Although we’re waving goodbye to the summer, you still have the opportunity to host a variety of programming efforts to bring in students.
Camps, while large and sometimes intimidating undertakings, are a prime way to get students involved with your theatre. Whether you want to go big with weeks-long intensives or just host a single- or multi-day event, you will no doubt garner the interest of students (and their parents) with camp offerings.
If you don’t have the budget for a camp, other programming ideas that could bring in students include:
Students in your community who are interested in dabbling in the arts likely have a lot of questions. Luckily for them, you have lots of answers!
Organize and promote Q&A sessions before or after your community theatre’s current shows or even before or after workshops or other programming efforts. Market these sessions to students and schools specifically. If the students are particularly young or timid, create a guide to your shows or a list of helpful questions they can ask you.
The more comfortable that students get with your theatre, the stronger the connection and the greater the likelihood that they’ll join you for productions down the line.
Both your community theatre and area schools’ drama departments have passionate audiences who truly love the performing arts. So, why not partner up with these schools for cross-promotional opportunities?
Meet with school leadership in your areas to discuss joint marketing opportunities and promotional trades. Tag each other in social media posts, hang up posters for their performances in your theatre, and vice versa. You can even create branded merchandise to sell at their events and for them to sell at yours. By establishing partnerships with these schools, you introduce students to the world of community theatre, appear organized and professional, and make theatre far more accessible to students generally.
As the theatre world moves toward greener practices, the swapping/trading/reusing of other theatre props, costumes, set pieces, and the like is an excellent way to spearhead sustainability practices … and get students involved in your shows.
Reach out to drama departments in your area to see if they want to donate set pieces or need props, costumes, lighting equipment, or other necessary items. Not only will this save both you and the school money, time, and stress, but you’ll also make connections that may be invaluable later.
You likely recruited a few previous students in your area to join you in the community theatre experience. Leverage their established relationships with area schools to create, market, and host alumni engagement events.
Market these to the alma mater schools of your actors, and allow these passionate alumni to speak on the many benefits of community theatre and your program specifically. This will further engage local schools and make your programs more appealing to current students.
Everyone loves a peek behind the curtain. Invite students to visit your theatre for a tour – whether that’s before opening night, after a rehearsal, or just during a working day. Take them on and behind the stage, into the costume area, and explore the lighting and sound booths. You can even give them a glimpse of your front of house, ticketing booths, and other areas they may find interesting.
Field trip logistics can be tricky, but if done right, you’ll engage students from around your community and get them comfortable and excited about the ins and outs of community theatre.
If you want to make students feel special, why not invite them to your dress rehearsals before the big show?
Allowing them to see the rehearsal process from top to bottom and experience the not-so-glamorous aspects – like lighting malfunctions, forgotten lines, or missed notes – will make your community theatre seem less intimidating, more accessible, and more real.
If you are a community theatre looking to raise the bar, On The Stage can help.
On The Stage (OTS) is proud to play a role in communities nationwide by empowering performing arts organizations with Broadway-caliber technology for marketing, ticketing, fundraising, and front-of-house management – for free. With advanced ticketing options, a robust Box Office Portal, a comprehensive Fundraising Suite, on-demand merchandising, and more, we enable programs of all sizes to engage with larger audiences, increase revenue, and deepen their relationships with loyal patrons. Book a personalized demo with On The Stage today to see how we can help.